Social Media: Tips for Engagement & Increasing Your Reach

An Introduction to… Social Media: Tips for Engagement & Increasing Your Reach
Laura Matthews

Social media users have risen worldwide by 176 million in the last year. It's now become something you can't ignore. It has to be part of your marketing strategy. However, it doesn't have to taxing to manage, and, if used correctly can become an invaluable tool helping you to; reach new audiences, engage with existing ones, promote events, network, share information, prompt feedback, raise funds... the list goes on.

Here at Cambridge Junction we use our social media platforms in different ways to engage with a range of audiences in a suitable manner. For example; We use Twitter mainly for information sharing links to opportunities, show reviews, running times and announcements. We use Instagram for a 'behind the scenes' insight, to give our audience a better idea of the activity that happens during the day and in the lead up to an event.

Before you start tweeting, blogging, posting and uploading it's good idea to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve through social media. Create a simple strategy and choose which social media platform/s will work best for the job in hand.

Below are some tips to increase engagement and impact for the three main contenders of the social media world; Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

However, do remember that social media is always changing, developing and trends move on. So whilst this may be relevant now who knows if this will still be the case 6 months down the line?

Top Tips: Twitter

1. Use an eye catching profile picture and cover photo to reflect the personality of your company.

2. Be relevant and current. If you have some 'breaking' news – share it!

3. Tweet consistently but don't spam your followers. If you only have an hour to do all your social media posts, try scheduling their release dates & times to make sure you reach your audience at the right times.

4. Use Twitter to ask and answer questions. This helps you to build relationships.

5. Connect people – it's a social network tool.

6. Be generous, promote others. A simple #RT (retweet) or #FF (Follow Friday – a Twitter trend where users recommend who to follow) will help build relationships.

7.  Create a headline. When you tweet a link, choose a quote or a statistic from the article that you think is interesting and tweet that to draw attention to the article.

8. Leave the room for others’ Twitter handles (names) /comments.  If you want others to comment, or retweet your original tweet remember that you only have 140 characters to play with. So keep your original post short and snappy so others don't have to edit your post.

9. Ask for a retweet - “please RT,” you usually see higher number of retweets. (If you don't ask, you don't get!)

10. Acknowledge who shared the information with you and if that person has a Twitter handle, credit them. (Again, it's all about building relationships)

11. Don't be afraid to tweet the same content again. There's a good chance that most of your followers won’t catch your first tweet. You’re competing with all the other tweets that will crop up in your followers’ feeds. Also bear in mind the time in which you tweet, especially if you're trying to reach a global audience. We use Twuffer, (twuffer.com) which allows to you schedule pre-written tweets including across different time zones in case you are trying to reach an international audience. 

12. Follow people back. This allows them to connect with you personally through direct messaging (DM) and you get a better idea of who you're actually communicating to.

13. Track your impact. You can use Twitter Analytics (an option under your username) to gauge your impact and reach for your tweets.

Top Tips: Instagram

1.    Make sure you post regularly. As with all social media, consistency is key. 

2.    Interact with you followers. If they've commented on your photo, reply. It's all about engagement and making your audience feel part of the whole experience.

3.    Create branded hash-tags (so you can monitor who is engaged with your account). This works better if you are working on a lasting project. For example; if you want to see who is posting about your Christmas show encourage your followers to use a specific hashtag #Xmasbonanza16. You can then easily type this into the search facility to see who is posting what. This is a great way to engage with you audience.

4.    Know your followers – what other accounts do they follow? Do your research and see what others are posting to keep up with trends.

5.    Keep up with trending hash-tags. This enables you to make sure that your post will be included in the top searches.  Justin Bieber once said that to get more views on his YouTube channel he would use popular hashtags like; #cutekittens #cats etc. 

(Here's some I googled earlier to find out what's trending today... #popular #instagood #iphonesia #photooftheday #instamood #picoftheday #bestoftheday #instadaily #igdaily #instagramhub #instacool #me #photo #twelveskip) 

Talking of hashtags check out this funny video!

6.    Incorporate videos. As of March 2016 Instagram increased the video length from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. (An ideal length for trailers to work on social media!)

7.    Keep it fun. Don't be too 'sales' orientated.

8.    Connect your account with Facebook (an Instagram post is up to 6 times more likely to get more likes!) You can do this within your settings on Facebook.

9.    Team up for shout outs. Don't be afraid to approach a follower to ask them to post something on your behalf, or arrange a swap with them.

10.    Posts with 7 hash-tags apparently perform the best. According to recent study 7 hashtags are the most liked. (I'll be trying this out over the next few months to see if this works for us!)

11.    Make sure your bio & profile picture is current and reflects your brand/message.

Top Tips: Facebook

1.    Show personality through your profile photo/cover photo and language.

2.    Ask open ended questions. (Who, what, when, where, why, how?) For example replace 'I'm listening to Enya' with 'I'm listening to Enya. What are you listening to?'. You'll be surprised how much this will increase your reach.

3.    Use images. Often an image will get a bigger reach.

4.    Make sure the timing is right. Sunday evening posts usually get the most reach (but that may be because there's less competition). Use Facebook Insights to see how your audience are interacting. Also don't forget to schedule posts. Let Facebook do the work for you!

5.    What's popular on Facebook right now? Don' be afraid to jump on the bandwagon.

6.    Build relationships. Share your fans content!

7.    Use Videos!

Videos are the hottest thing in reaching and engaging with your audience right now, with an increase of video uploads of 75%. Video posts have 135% greater organic (not paid for) reach than photo posts. However there are some tricks to make sure your message is being heard:

 - Keep videos short. Most people will only watch the first 5-10 seconds.
 - Make sure that the first 3 seconds have movement.
 - 85% of videos are played without sound. So, get captioning!
 - Create a call to action at the end of your video. (book now, see more...)
 - Pick a good thumbnail, or upload a photo.
 - Tag other people & pages to ensure your targeting the audience you want to reach.
 - Food is the most popular topic when it comes to Facebook videos!

The Facebook Algorithm (the enemy)

Every time you open Facebook, the Facebook algorithm springs into action. It scans and collects everything that's posted by your friends, everyone you follow, each group you follow and each page you like. For the average Facebook user that's more than 1, 500 posts. Then according to the Facebook newsfeed formula each post is ranked in what it believes to be the precise order of how likely you are to find reach post worthwhile. Most users will only see the top few hundred. The Facebook algorithm is constantly being tweaked so the way in which you use Facebook to engage with your followers must change and adapt to allow you to try and reach as many people possible.

In conclusion, make sure that you're consistent with your social media posting. Keep it fun. Use social media to build relationships. And ask yourself when choosing to post - Is it engaging? Is it relevant? Is it interesting? If you can answer yes to at least one of these questions – then post away!

If you are still struggling to reach your target audience or are in a hurry and need to boost a post there is always a paid for advertising option within Facebook, (and Twitter & Instagram). For further reading on Facebook advertising visit: www.facebook.com/business and keep an eye out for a Troop workshop specifically on paid advertising in social media.

If you have any specific questions regarding social media please feel free to post a question on the Troop Facebook page (and don't forget to tag me in it so I see your post!)

Laura Matthews